Site Loader

LOCATION

510 5th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA

The film, The Organizer, takes place in an Italian textile factory during the late 19th century. The factory employs workers of all ages including some older men and a teenager as well. In the first scene, exhaustion has begun to set in towards the end of the workday, and as a result, a man gets his arm caught in one of the machines. The workers at this factory are working fourteen-hour work days with little to no breaks and are working with dangerous machinery. The workers ask management to reduce the workday by an hour to prevent more accidents due to fatigue, but management does not take their pleas seriously and denies their request. The workers then plan a walk out when they hear the bell ring, but when the time comes to leave the workers get cold feet and stay the intended hour. After their failed attempt, the workers run into a professor who joins the workers’ conversation and convinces them not to just to go to work late but instead form a strike. Management attempts to persuade the strikers to come back to work with concessions but fail to do so; they move on and hire recently laid off workers from another factory to take their place. A fight breaks out between the strikers and the newly employed workers and results in the death of one of the strikers’ leaders. News gets out about the death of one of the strikers which forces the factory owners to turn away the new replacement workers. The workers continue to strike for weeks and are considering giving up, but the professor returns and convinces them to continue the strike and to fight for injustice. At the end, there is a fight between the strikers and the army who was brought in. The young boy is shot and killed as the other strikers run away for their lives, and the professor is finally arrested. Sadly, after much protest, the strikers’ efforts fail and they go back to work in the same working conditions as before.
This was film was particularly relevant to Marx’s ideas because the main plot of the movie was for the lower working class to take back some of its power and rights from the factory owners, or the 1%. Like we saw in the other movie, The Young Karl Marx, Marx and Engels were deeply concerned with the oppression of the working class as well as the working conditions they faced in factories like the one Engels’ father owned. The mentality of the big and powerful shop owners is specifically to produce as much as the can for as little as they can so that a huge majority of the profit goes straight into their pockets. Although it was Engels’ father’s factory, he still realized the unjustness and maltreatment of the workers employed at the factory; to which Marx agreed with completely and considered exploitation.
Marx was very against capitalism, as well all know, and thus was a big proponent of the Communist Revolution. Marx proposed that the demise of capitalism would come from class consciousness. Class consciousness is “the self-awareness of a social class which allows it to act in its own rational interest and realizes its historical task; confronting the exploiter” (lecture). In the movie that is what the factory workers come to realize after one of the men gets his hand mangled in a machine. The workers recognize that in order to get the benefits they deserve met, they must confront the factory’s management/owners. So, with the help of the professor, the workers come together and strike against the factory owners so that their workday would be reduced by an hour. Unfortunately, in this story, the class struggle was not resolved and by the end of the movie, and the workers once again return to work as exhausted as before and with the same working conditions.
In the film, the workers did come together to take social action as Marx suggested, however, it wasn’t successful in overthrowing, or at least gaining some of the power from the oppressing class. Marx had an idealistic view of revolution and social change but did not seem to take other factors into account. One big factor being the amount of power that the oppressing class possesses and the inequality between the oppressing and the oppressed. In the movie, working at the factory was the only source of income for many of the workers, so to stop working entirely meant that many families would be struggling. During the month that the workers were on strike, the factory owners were experiencing financial losses, but it did not hinder them to the same extent as the strikers who needed to provide for their families. After weeks had passed since the fight with the replacement workers, the strikers took a vote to end their strike, but the professor urges the men to keep fighting for their rights and to not give in. Because of the persuasiveness of the professor the strikers escalate their agenda and take over the factory, but since the factory owners have political power, the government aids them by sending in army soldiers to guard the perimeter of the factory.
Another obstacle that Marx did not seem to take into account was the competitive job market. When the original workers went strike it doesn’t take the factory long to find workers to replace them. In a nearby factory, some workers were newly laid off and were in need of jobs. With such a competitive job market people are desperate for any type of work to stay afloat, and therefore makes employees more disposable because there are so many other people that can take their place. This is the case in today’s society here in America. The job market is very competitive which in turn allows employers to lower benefits and wages because so many people are in need of a job. This is the same reason why the strikers returned to work for the factory with unchanged working conditions after a failed revolution. The workers were so desperate in need of means to support their family that they went back to the factory despite the dangers of a 14-hour workday.
Marx’s approach to capitalism and how the film depicts capitalism has made me realize how the United States, and the whole world for that matter, is controlled by huge companies like Ford and McDonalds. Today the 1% posses so much of the world’s wealth and power it has created a huge separation between it and the working class. When looking at society from a Marxist perspective I have come to realize how much emphasis we have placed on gaining profit and acquiring a higher status than those around us. Although I do not believe total communism would be successful, I think that maybe we could take key aspects of the communistic approach and infiltrate it into our current situation. This way there would be more equal opportunities allowing people to be paid according to their abilities rather than their status. By doing this it would decrease the exploitation of classes and class struggle while evening the playing field for everyone in society.

Post Author: admin